Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Manga-Ka Band Wars Report!

The undisputed grand master of manga, Osamu Tezuka, once said that a good manga artist should arm themselves with three weapons. He was referring to writing three successful titles in three different genres. But times have changed. Manga artists these days are blowing up the scene as photographers, figure makers, columnists, and, true to their indie roots, garage musicians!

Last Sunday, Shinjuku Red Cloth hosted a night of bands led by underground manga authors and personalities. We went in somewhat apprehensive of the comic writers' power to rock, but by the end of the night they had converted us into a loyal believers.

Yojo Jin’in/Excess personnel (余剰人員)
Yusaku Hanakuma (花くまゆうさく), Tokyo Zombie

These guys set the tone of the night with their amateurish but heartfelt cover of Under My Thumb. They weren’t the best band there, but that’s not the point—People didn’t come out to have a Phrygian scale pissing contest. Everyone was content to just do their thing and hang with their contemporaries. That’s not to say that their final song, Ningen Roller, didn’t bring the noise!


You have to respect Taske for being a self-made man. Or women. Or whatever. Actually, I'm not sure what Taske is, but I do know that it has to be seen to be believed. This entity of unintentional hilarity has compiled a book of reprehensible poems and was more than happy to give a live reading for everyone locked into the club.

(Taske video coming soon!)

Taske’s shtick is funny for about ten minutes, at which point you realize there is no shtick and grow fearful for your own safety. Even the most extreme entertainers turn off the switch when they go home. Taske, not so much.

The Feavers

Tomohiro Koizumi (小泉智浩) (Seishun Kinzoku Bat, To appear in AX Volume 1

If you write comics about awkward twenty-somethings who have fallen through the cracks of society, then forming a college hardcore band ten years after the fact is the next logical step. There’s something cathartic about watching someone else’s eyes bug out for a change in rage over girls and their crappy nine-to-five.

They even had their own mascot, Taske, to incite the crowd with it’s raving and impromptu air guitar. Koizumi hyped Taske’s poems which is what got it through the door in the first place, so I assume he feels responsible to placate Taske with stage time in order to keep it from blitzing the stage and destroying other bands’ instruments.

Takashi Imashiro Band

A last minute addition, this funky trio laid down some smooth psychedelic riffs and washed the taste of Taske from our mouths. While they only played three songs, each was a marathon jam session of King Crimson proportions.

Tokarevs (トカレフズ)
Yusaku Hanakuma (花くまゆうさく), Tokyo Zombie
Maho Shimao (しまおまほ), Artist, Radio Police

Tokarevs is essentially Joyo Jin’in with pair of lovely ladies taking over the vocals. The disconnect of watching men in jumpsuits perform old idol songs like Koi wa Question was nothing compared to the shock of realizing that we've become such sentimental fogies that we can appreciate folksy songs like RC Succession's debut single, Takarakuji wa Kawanai (I Don't Play the Lotto).

(More on Maho Shimao Here)

Roden Ginza/Live Wire Ginza (漏電銀座)
Imiri Sakabashira (逆柱いみり), The Box Man, artist, To appear in AX Volume 1

Remember what we said earlier about how no one was here to show off their chops? Rouden Ginza blows that theory out of the water. They killed the stage and took no prisoners. Sakabashira made his Bo Diddley scream like a bloody goblin, and the minimalist, taught bass lines harkened back to goth rock you could actually dance to. Unfortunately we failed to record those songs, but the rest of their set was nothing short of electrifying.

Urbangals Quartet (アーバンギャルズカルテット)
Katsuwo Kawai (河井克夫), To appear in AX Volume 1
Jun Hanyunyuu (羽生生純), Koi no Mon
Michihiro Hori (堀道広),Seishun Uruwashi! Urushibu

This manga artist super group brought their Korgs out to play and assimilated the audience with their pre-programmed beats and synchronized fist pumping. Their group hypnosis must have worked, because two days after the fact we still can't get this chorus out of our heads:

Pathos (ペーソス)

There are some things that only an old man can know, such as the joy of watching one's daughter grow into a women, the best way to drink shochu, or what it feels like to have a prostate the size of a kiwi. Aging can be a gradual, lonely process. Thankfully, Pathos is there to help us find humor every step of the way to death’s door

Genki Ii Zo (げんきいいぞう)

The show couldn't go out with one foot in the grave! Suddenly there erupted a primal scream from the back, followed by this guy rushing the stage, carrying an acoustic guitar over his head like the Honkey Tonk Man. His paisley shirt, boxer shorts, and silken voice reminded us of Rage Kage from Tenacious D fame. Watch him lead the night's performers in one final send off!

Time for the artists to meet Joe Public! A manga author's work isn't finished until they ruin their drawing hand writing messages to the fans. At 200 yen per pop, these guys were practically begging to be bothered!

Looks like Shimao Maho liked our post about her show at Trancepop Gallery.

Imiri Sakabashira is in love with his guitar, but who wouldn't be?

Hanakuma with his heta uma drawings. So bad, they're good.

No, that's not a blind Buddha, it's Utamaru from Rhymester. You all owe it to yourselves to check out his Cinema Hustler movie podcast!

Not a moment went by without some form of spectacle to behold. You didn't even have a second to grab yourself a drink between bands (or, in VoidMare's case, hit the can) because they turned the interim period into an R-rated Reading Rainbow! We wish we had time to subtitle them, but they come with their own laugh track so you can figure out where the jokes are for yourself.

The New Kid is a Brain in a Jar

Women's Prison: Release the Bats

The Limits of Love

And there's hours more of this nonsense on the Kami-1 DVD!
These artists are relatively unknown even in Japan, but English translations of their works are starting to trickle out. Support starving Manga-Kas!

Mangaka Band Wars 2009
(Photos by VoidMare)


  1. Oh my god, Sakabashira-san is way too cool! And his rectanguler Gretsch!! Did you guys get his total hand-made music copies too? If not, it's also available at Tacoche in the Broadway!

    Also, Shimao-san doesn't stop making me smile! What a sweetie! :):):)

    Anyway, thanks a lot for reporting this! I'm glad you guys had a blast! :)

    PS: We totally need to do some research on Taske.

  2. I thought it was an excellent blog, that information has been very helpful in my life, I am a manga lover, so I really enjoyed this reading, I like draw everyday! Thanks for this great moment!